On March 29th I attended the funeral of the father of one of my friends from grade school and high school. He was also one of my Little League coaches when I was on the A's.
I played 4 years of Little League between 1990 - 1993. I was 9, 10, 11, and 12 years old during this time. I was on the Yankees, A's, Cubs and Rockies. I was never the greatest player, but I loved playing baseball.
I also loved getting packs of baseball cards from the snack bar after our games. Sometimes we would get snacks after the game, but often times we would get tickets that could be redeemed at the snack bar for candy, soda, or in my case, baseball cards. I remember using my tickets and other spare change for packs of Topps, Donruss, Fleer and Score.
I remember a couple of things about my time with the A's. We had a girl on our team. This was the only time in my Little League career that we had a girl on my team. She was good too. Another thing unique about my time on the A's was that at practice after a game, the coach would give out these little cloth white stars as recognition for a great play or hit. These were then sown on the backs of our hats. I don't have my hat anymore, so I don't know how many starts I got during the course of the season, but I have a pretty good idea know that the coach looked for ways to recognize everyone on the team got a good number of stars, but I also don't think he shy'd away from giving out stars to those kids that really deserved them.
On November 22, 2020 my friend posted the following about a visit with his dad, my former coach. "I love listening to him talk about sports and coaching. Yesterday we talked about the importance of the kids at the bottom of the order (baseball lineup), and how they can have a great impact in a game. Make sure you build up everyone on the team and don't rely solely on just your best players. Opportunities for great moments can come from anyone." This confirmed my suspicions about his attitude towards the stars and recognizing every players contributions.
After the funeral, which was held at a church building near my high school, I made my way to The Batter's Box card shop which was just a few miles away. I use cards, right or wrong, as a distraction from sadness. I went to a card show the day after my mother passed away. I just needed some relief. I needed something to take my mind off of the pain and sadness.
I looked at everything in the shop, and if money had been no object, I'm sure I would have made a more substantial purchase, but I picked up just these four cards (only 3 different). While these cards were produced just after my time in Little League, each of these players was a star while I was swinging my Dwight Gooden aluminum bat and using my George Brett glove while donning a Yankee, A's, Cubs and Rockies hat and jersey out on the baseball fields behind Sunburst Elementary School back in the early 1990's.
I grabbed this 1997 Fleer Ultra RBI King for my quest for 762 different Barry Bonds cards. This one set me back 59 cents.
This 1995 Select Certified Mirror Gold parallel of Mark Grace also cost 59 cents. Such a good deal that I grabbed two of the same card. These aren't anywhere near the rarity of the 1996 Select Certified Mirror Golds, but they are estimated to just 1873 copies.
This 1994 Collector's Choice Gold Parallel is my favorite of the three cards that I picked up. These came one per box and 5 per factory set, so they are pretty rare. When you consider this is a 670 card set, the odds of getting any one particular player are extremely high, so I considered adding a Puckett to my collection for $1.59 a bargain.
While I didn't grab anything big, I'm happy with the cards that I picked up and hopefully they will always remind of my Little League coach. My three boys have all played Little League. I have one that is still playing. I've had a chance to coach or be an assistant coach for each of them. I haven't coached in a couple of years though due to my work schedule and I appreciate now more than ever the time and effort put in by men and women who volunteer as Little League coaches.